Interviewing is always tricky, but even more so when the department is brand new. If you put yourself in the hiring manager’s shoes, the process is just as difficult. They have likely been covering some of the work themselves while trying to figure out best practices quickly. Once the new role has been approved, they are assessing candidates in areas outside of their expertise.
As CEO, I found that whenever I was outside my comfort zone (in my case at Upfront, interviewing engineers was really challenging!) I went with the candidates who made it easy for me to assess their work.
Here are some ways you can make the hiring manager’s experience, and your interview, smoother:
The easiest thing you can do to impress a hiring manager is outline past success in a clear order of what the problem was, what you did to solve it, and the results. I found that the more numbers you use, the easier it is to see the impact of your work. For example: “At my last role, we had no presence on any social media channels and it was impacting our talent pool and brand awareness. I created new pages for the company, added a Careers email, and scheduled posts via Buffer with consistent messaging. We saw a 50% increase of job applications and 500 followers in the first month.” Mentioning the tools you used also helps showcase your expertise.
It’s really easy to slip into jargon or acronyms when you’ve been immersed in your work, but remember that not everybody knows what you mean. Saying something as simple as GA or ICP can alienate a hiring manager (and that’s Google Analytics and Ideal Customer Profile in case anyone is wondering!) and sour the interview in their minds.
Remember that the hiring manager has likely started some of the work you’ll be taking over so avoid criticizing during your interview. Instead, frame suggestions as adding rather than replacing such as “to build on your work, I think adding xyz would make a huge impact.”
One of the best ways for a manager to feel comfortable with hiring you is to have excellent references, especially if it’s someone they already know. Check the hiring manager’s Facebook and LinkedIn profiles and see if you have mutual connections. Offer references proactively during your interview, and always give your references a heads up first.
Dana is the CEO and Co-Founder of Upfront, the first site dedicated to pricing transparency in daycares. She is the former Chief of Staff at VirtualHealth, a growth-stage health tech company that was named Deloitte’s 39th Fastest Growing Company, and spent years in various advertising agencies in NYC. Dana graduated with her MBA from NYU's Stern School of Business and BS from Boston University. She lives in NYC with her husband, baby son, and cat.
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